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Former Bigot

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"I killed two guys, Danny, I killed them. And it didn't make me feel any different. It just got me more lost and I'm tired of being pissed off, Danny. I'm just tired of it."

In the name of the greatest people that have ever trod this earth, I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny, and I say segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.
George Wallace, 1963
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I was wrong. Those days are over, and they ought to be over.
George Wallace, 1979

A character used to be a bigot (either to a specific group or every other group). Maybe he/she grew up in an environment where people have similar views. Maybe they were wronged by said group. Maybe they simply think their group is the best there is and look down on others. The bigot-target group may be Always Chaotic Evil.

But after some time, he/she stops holding such views. It may either happen in the past (i.e as a backstory), or as a Character Development in the present.

Maybe the character witnesses the bigot-target group's good qualities (especially if the character was young and/or and Innocent Bigot). Maybe a member of said group helped them when they needed it, often despite what the bigoted person might do or say to their people. Maybe they realize that being a bigot harms them in the long run and they may need help from said group. They might also find out that said group is Not Always Evil.

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Compare I Hate Past Me, The Atoner, Old Shame, and Reformed Bully. Contrast Schoolyard Bully All Grown Up. May result in a Zombie Advocate when they outright argue in favor of the group's humanity (if it's a group of a fantastic race.)


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • In One Piece, Nami used to be a Tragic Bigot towards fishmen because they were heavily involved in her Dark and Troubled Past. But after hearing the story of the slavery of fishmen from Hatchan and later, the story of Jinbe's late boss Fisher Tiger and late mermaid queen Otohime who fought for fishmen's rights in different ways, she has a change of heart and she renounces all of her hate towards fishmen, except for those who really did bad things.

    Comic Books 
  • Runaways
    • Chase was originally mildly homophobic, but gradually became less so after Karolina came out as a lesbian, to the point where, by the end of the second series, he was even trying to make friends with Karolina's fiancee Xavin.
    • Xavin was originally an extremely chauvinistic Skrull. Their relationship with Karolina forced them to confront their chauvinism, to the point that, during Secret Invasion, they officially turned against the Skrull Empire.
    • Klara at one point had issues with either homosexuality or miscegenation (or possibly both), expressing disgust at the site of Xavin and Karolina kissing. She got over it pretty quickly, and more recently was adopted by a gay couple.
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    Fan Works 
  • In RWBY: Scars, Weiss' snappy comments about Faunus are exaggerated into outright Fantastic Racism towards them. Most of this stems from her environment growing up and an attempt at placing the blame of her father's abuse elsewhere rather than on her dad. After joining Beacon and being teamed up with Blake (who is a cat Faunus herself), Weiss' views quickly change. After falling for Blake, Weiss becomes interested in Faunus rights herself.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In American History X, Derek became the leader of a Neo-Nazi movement after his father was murdered by a black drug dealer. After serving a prison sentence for the revenge killing of a black home invader, and enduring a gang rape at the hands of the Aryan Brotherhood, Derek renounces his old ways after an old mentor leads him to an epiphany about his actions. When he gets out of prison, he also helps his brother Danny to break free from the movement before Danny is murdered for a wholly separate incident by a teenager with ties to the local Crips chapter. Tragically, the alternate ending shows Derek shaving his head again.
  • In Captain Marvel (2019), Vers is a loyal, dedicated member of the Kree Starforce, helping the Kree Empire hunt down Skrulls until she learns that she's actually a human who was kidnapped and brainwashed by the Kree. After learning this, and learning that the Skrulls are refugees from the Kree's genocidal campaign, she turns against the Kree Empire and helps the Skrulls find a new homeworld.

    Literature 

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the French Police Procedural P.J. (also called C.I.D.), Chloe Matthieu starts off as a member of a far-right police union, with an uncle who is in an unnamed Front National expy. She expresses hatred for gay people, immigrants, Arabs, Muslims... basically, anyone who isn't white, French, and Christian. Over the course of the series, she starts developing friendships with non-white people, eventually has a child with a black man, gets a part-time job in a lesbian bar, has a bisexual colleague look after her child while she's at work, and gradually comes to realize that most of her old beliefs are evil and repugnant.
  • Archie Bunker from All in the Family became this over the course of the series. While he still held some outdated views, he became more accepting of others. He actually quit a club he was part of who held similar racist views when they insulted Archie's black maid.
  • Joshua Nolan in Defiance was a war criminal in the past and was extremely open about his Fantastic Racism against Votans. You'd never know it, nowadays; it's implied that adopting the orphaned Irisa mellowed him out a bit.
  • A new prison guard working with the Aryan gang in Oz tries to claim to be this when another prison official notices his swastika tattoo, but his behavior since being hired has been too obvious and nobody buys the excuse.
  • In the Proven Innocent episode "Cross to Bear", Madeline takes on the case of a former white supremacist who was framed for the murder of a black man. He claims to have renounced his former beliefs, but it's left ambiguous whether he actually did, causing tensions between Maddie and her black associates, who are understandably uncomfortable with defending him.
  • John Pilgrim from season 2 of The Punisher (2017). He started as a murderous Aryan Brotherhood thug before finding religion and turning his back on them. Unfortunately for him, he wound up with a Corrupt Church, so he's still a murderous thug, just a reluctant non-racist one.

    Video Games 
  • In Fallout 4, one of the many versions of Deacon's backstory you can hear has him being a member of a gang of anti-Synth extremists, but falling in love with a synth woman who was later murdered by the gang, causing him to kill them all in revenge. By the time you meet him, he's an agent of The Railroad, the biggest Synths-rights advocate group in the Commonwealth.
  • Khelgar from Neverwinter Nights 2 initially has a low opinion of his companions Neeshka and Elanee because they're a Tiefling and Wood Elf respectively. He also wants to become a monk in the service of Tyr, and part of his trial to do so involves undergoing enough Character Development to see them as Fire-Forged Friends and learn to judge people by their actions rather than their race.
  • Ysuran Auondril from Baldurs Gate Dark Alliance II was once an elf supremacist and member of the terrorist organisation Eldreth Veluuthra, but a magical accident left him with Amnesiac Dissonance, and the new personality he created to replace his old one possessed none of his former prejudices, only a strange desire to help everyone around him. He can eventually regain his memories of his old life, but swears off all connection to it in disgust.
  • In Senran Kagura, Kurokage spent most of his life killing all "evil" (read: mercenary) shinobi in the name of justice, before realizing that most of them were only working for the money they needed to get by (and since shinobi code dictates that all shinobi battles must be to the death, well...). After that, he tried to keep his students/adopted daughters from making the same mistakes he had and eventually succeeded.
  • XO Charles Pressly's diaries in Mass Effect 2 reveal that his xenophobic views on the aliens made a complete U-turn after tackling the Sovereign crisis shoulder-to-shoulder with them. Too bad he was killed soon after.
  • Wakka from Final Fantasy X is a devout follower of the religion of Yevon, and harbors an intense dislike of the Al Bhed, a heathen group who defy the Yevonite taboo against technology. He starts to reconsider his views after seeing Yevonites committing atrocities against the Al Bhed city of Home, learning that one of his best friends, Yuna, is half-Al Bhed on her mother's side, and realising that several high-ranking Yevon officials are Hypocrites who don't follow the rules they preach to others. By the time of the sequel, he shows a new-found tolerance for the Al Bhed by naming his newborn child Vidina, the Al Bhed word for "Future".
  • Yes, Your Grace: King Eryk can become more accepting toward the Radovians, the Fantastic Racism induced enemy from the game's two first acts, in the third. Two plot threads encourage this: this first involves a potential ally that will only help Eryk during the final siege if he helps Radovians every chance he gets, the second letting his daughter run off with the Radovian girl she's in love with.

    Web Animation 
  • Weiss from RWBY starts off as a Troubled Sympathetic Bigot towards Faunus due to her family's history with the White Fang, though she grows out of it over the course of the first three volumes. By the time volume 6 rolls around, she's usually the first person to speak up whenever someone directs a racist comment at Blake.

    Western Animation 
  • Zig-Zagged on Family Guy with Brian, who is quite proud of his progressive/liberal/what-have-you views, but also barks at black people he doesn't know just because they're black.
    Brian: Oh, oh, oh, God. Oh, God. I am so sorry. I keep doing that. Oh, God, please, please forgive me. I get that from my father. He's from a different generation. It's, uh...
    Puff Daddy: Whatever, man.
    Brian: We, we cool? We good?
    Puff Daddy: Yeah, we're cool. Fine.
    Brian: growls
  • In Gargoyles, Princess Katherine had shared the same fear and suspicion towards the gargoyles that protect Castle Wyvern as the rest of her court (sans the Captain) since she was a child, mainly due to her father using them as a bogeyman for her to behave. It is not until Goliath saved her and her people from Hakon and learned the most of the Wyvern Clan had been destroyed does she vow to protect the clans' unhatched eggs, Goliath wishing to join the only remaining members of his clan after having been trapped in stone by the Archmage's spell after. She would go on to protect the eggs alongside the Archmage and the orphan Tom before they hatched within the safety of Avalon, and would go on to raise them as her children. Considering one of these gargoyles - Angela - strongly believes that humans and gargoyles can live in peace and harmony together, she was likely a good parent regardless of their differing species.

    Real Life 
  • As quoted at the top, George Wallace was one of the most notorious pro-segregation politicians in the 1960s, running for Governor of Alabama on an explicitly pro-segregation platform. In the late 1970s, after having become paralyzed in an assassination attempt while seeking the Democratic nomination for President in 1972 and becoming a Born-Again Christian, Wallace declared that he no longer believed in segregation, and renounced his past support for it.
    • Notably, when Wallace ran for his fourth and final (non-consecutive) term as Alabama Governornote  in 1982, Wallace effectively campaigned as The Atoner, seeking to make up for his past support of segregation. It was a pledge Wallace would make good on, appointing a record number of blacks to state positions including having 2 black members of the State Cabinet at the same time.
  • Strom Thurmond infamously conducted the longest speaking filibuster by an American senator ever in opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1957, and opposed other civil rights bills in The '60s. However, starting in The '70s, he moderated his position on race.
  • On a similar note, Robert Byrd was a member of the Ku Klux Klan and a staunch opponent of integration. But he later renounced his past racism, including his Klan membership and his former position on segregation.
  • Malcolm X rose to fame (and notoriety) as the public face of the black supremacist organization known as the Nation of Islam. But after returning from his Hajj and seeing true racial harmony and equality in action, he repudiated the Nation of Islam and his former racist views.
  • Life After Hate is an organization dedicated to supporting those leaving Neo-Nazi movements and ending violent extremism.
  • Bryon Widner was a former skinhead who left the movement after becoming a father. He was especially famous for the extensive tattoo removal procedures he underwent after turning his life around, a story that became the subject of the 2018 biopic film Skin.

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